Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Signs of Slowing Unemployment; U.S. Jobless Claims Decline for Third Week

Tracking Jobless claims by state: week ending April 18

According to today’s release from the Labor Department, 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week (ending April 18), a decrease of 810,000 from the previous week’s revised level. In the last five weeks, more than 26 million new jobless claims were filed across the United States, confirming the concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy. Comparing these claims with the total number of employees, nearly 16% of the workforce lost their job in the last five weeks. However, it is the third week in a row in which jobless claims have declined, showing that unemployment is slowing.

The National Association of REALTORS® closely monitors the weekly claims for unemployment insurance provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since this data is also released for each state, we track the jobless claims activity at the state level. This state-level data report is a very important indicator to watch at economic turning points because it provides detail on what’s happening week by week, rather than each month or quarter.

The good news is that 44 states reported a decrease in initial claims for the week ending April 18. New York, California, and Michigan were the states with the highest decline in unemployment claims compared to the previous week. The number of advance claims dropped by 189,985 in New York; 121,904 in California; 88,088 in Michigan. Parsing out by industry, fewer layoffs were reported in the manufacturing, retail trade, and accommodation and food services industries in Michigan and California, according to the local unemployment insurance program offices.

However, unadjusted advance claims continued to increase in Florida, Connecticut, and West Virginia. Specifically, the number of advance claims increased by 324,718 claims in Florida; 68,707 in Connecticut; and 31,307 in West Virginia. 

Taking a closer look at the percentage change of the last week’s advance claims with the initial claims of the previous week, New York (-48%) and Missouri (-48%) had the largest drop in layoffs followed by Wyoming (-43%) and Michigan (-40%). In contrast, in West Virginia, jobless claims increased 3 times as the previous week’s level.

The map below shows you the percentage change of layoffs for each state. Click on a state to see how many layoffs occurred every week within the last year.